Tag Archives: NWFP

Punjabi Taliban

By Frederick Kagan, Ahmad Majidyar

(The Critical Threats Project is developing a site focused specifically on the threat from al-Qaeda and Associated Movements (AQAM); until that site reaches production, related pieces will be posted on the IranTracker site.)

A group called Tehrik-e Taliban Punjab (TT Punjab) released a message on May 27 claiming credit for the suicide car-bomb attack in Lahore that killed at least 40 people and injured nearly 150, according to a translation prepared by the SITE Intel Group.  The message said that the attackers struck to retaliate for the operations the Pakistani Army has been conducting against the Tehrik-e Nafaz-e Shariat-e Mohammadi (TNSM) in the Swat River Valley and elsewhere in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan. Continue reading

Is Pakistan collapsing? A father and a citizen speaks

By Ali Dayan Hasan

At my daughter’s annual school parent’s day event in Lahore last month, the tension was palpable. Bewildered at the speed with which this innocuous annual event had transformed into a maximum security operation, anxious parents filed in their hundreds past security guards, metal detectors and bag searches into Theatre Number Two of the Alhamra Cultural Complex – a modernist structure that the citizens of Lahore would tell you proudly is amongst the largest public-funded exhibition and theatre complexes in Asia. They were there to see their children, none older than seven, perform the usual amalgam of tableaux on “Peoples and Festivals of the World”, a smattering of Kathak – a North Indian classical dance, a “Chinese dance” performance and, of course, my daughter’s favorite – a Disney-esque version of the Bangles hit – “Walk Like an Egyptian.” The event began, as always, with recitation from the Quran. Tense primary school teachers grappled with security issues and as I walked in; a very public stand-off between a security posse comprising teachers, local police and plain clothes personnel and a random man who was on the premises for “no known reason” was underway. The man was eventually deemed harmless and let go but there was no parent who entered that hall without making note of the exits. Two hours later, as we filed out, I and virtually every relieved parent thought and said the same thing: “One more year like the last one and next year there will be no Parents Day. Another month or two like the previous ones and there might be no school left open.”

Since December 27, 2007 – the dreadful winter’s day when streets across Pakistan fell silent in the aftermath of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistanis have understood and expressed in varying degrees, or disagreed in desperate denial, that the Islamization project unleashed by the United States and implemented by the Pakistani military since 1979 had turned on its creators, snarling at the United States, devouring Pakistan and exposing its army for the megalomaniac but intensely incompetent institution that it is. And the narrative of impending disaster, brutal dispossession and disembodied lives in exile for stateless citizens harking back pathetically to a lost life, hitherto the preserve of Palestinians and Cubans, Afghans, Somalis and the ethnic mosaic of the Balkans, beckons to Pakistanis as well. One could argue that Pakistanis are scared of a future comprising daily doses of floggings, beheadings, daisy cutters and drones. They might be too. But no one has had time to think that far ahead. The truth is more prosaic: After all, if your children cannot go to school, the future has ceased to be. And when societies cannot have a future, they die. Continue reading

Laid-back Lahore faces a frightening future

A chilling Guardian report

There are old pistols and bulls’ heads on the walls, live country and western music, waiters dressed as cowboys. The Gun Smoke restaurant could be anywhere in the world – but this is the exclusive Gulberg district in Lahore.

The whisky bottles are filled with tea. In the Islamic republic of Pakistan, there are only “mocktails” to wash the burgers down. Hassan “Jimmy” Khan is singing Johnny Cash. A 22-year-old economics student with a hippy beard and floppy hair, he has always lived in Lahore: “I love it, I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”

Here, amid the drinkers and diners in jeans and shirts, last week’s terrorist attack on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team, even though it took place less than a mile away, is forgotten. Continue reading